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Engineering
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What jobs can you do with an electrical engineering degree?

Graduates with electrical engineering degrees can choose from careers in a wide range of engineering industries. Here’s what you could do in each.

Electrical engineering graduates can find jobs in most engineering industries. These include:

  • Aerospace industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Chemical industry
  • Construction industry
  • Defence industry
  • Electronics industry
  • Fast moving consumer goods industry
  • Marine industry
  • Materials and metals industry
  • Oil and gas industry
  • Pharmaceuticals industry
  • Power generation industry
  • Rail industry
  • Telecoms
  • Utilities industry

What precisely would my job as an electrical engineering graduate be?

With some employers, electrical engineering graduates will develop ‘generalist’ engineering skills, performing similar jobs to graduates who studied different disciplines. However, many others will prefer you to further develop your specialist knowledge as an electrical engineer.

Sectors that often prefer their graduates to become specialists include the following.

  • Rolls-Royce states on its website that in the aerospace industry electrical engineering graduates can help ‘design the complicated interface that transfers electricity from the engine to the aircraft to power its electrical systems. This includes cabin pressurisation in civil aircraft.’ It also outlines: ‘Marine electrical engineers design the interface that turns the power from a ship’s multiple engines into one controlled power source, which then propels the ship and powers all of its electrical appliances.’
  • The built environment sector seeks electrical engineers for roles in building services engineering, designing and overseeing the installation of necessities such as power, lighting, fire systems and security systems.
  • In the materials and metals sector, Dr Andrew Smith, knowledge group leader at Tata Steel, comments that electrical engineers ‘can be involved in manufacturing, eg process control, ensuring critical pieces of kit are maintained, improved and developed.’
  • Meanwhile at EDF Energy – Generation, asset developer Paul Clarke discusses the power generation sector. He comments: ‘Electrical engineers focus on maintaining the electrical plant items (switchgear, transformers, motors, cables, generators, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), UPS (uninterruptable power supply) and lighting.’
  • Network Rail’s group asset management director, Jerry England, states that in the rail engineering sector ‘electrical engineers will be involved with power distribution and energy management systems’.
  • Neil Pullen, director of gas transmission asset management at National Grid, describes opportunities in the utilities industry. He says: ‘Electrical engineers may be involved in electrical design or network design work, for example relating to power systems (eg network analysis of whether a system is safe and secure to run). Or they might be involved in the day-to-day operating of a site, for example providing first or second line support.’
  • Electrical engineers in the oil and gas industry design and maintain electrical systems and components, making sure that they meet the right standards of safety and efficiency when used offshore. This can involve making small alterations or large-scale equipment changes.

Industries such as defence and fast moving consumer goods often like graduates to work cross-discipline.

  • Commenting on the defence industry, Paul Jones, enterprise integration manager at BAE systems, says: ‘At BAE systems – and at most other defence companies – engineers today mainly work at system level. A ‘system’ could be an aircraft or submarine, or one of its major components, or the whole battle space in which it operates, including the associated communications technologies, people, buildings and legal requirements. Defence systems are now so integrated that engineers need to operate cross-discipline, for example using a mixture of mechanical, electronic and electrical engineering knowledge.’
  • Chris Traynor, careers adviser and former engineer and engineering recruiter, explains the situation in the fast moving consumer goods industry. He comments: ‘Almost all the graduate roles are in one of two areas: manufacturing/engineering or supply network operations/logistics. And for both of these areas graduates from different disciplines would be doing similar jobs as each other. The reason for this is that the real “work” is not defined in nice separate buckets of mechanical, electrical, chemical etc, but normally a mixture of different disciplines as a general manufacturing or logistics engineer. Graduates will pick up skills from other disciplines as they go through their training and career.’

Alternative careers for electrical engineers

If you don’t want to become an engineer, an electrical engineering degree can open plenty of other doors. Explore your options for non-engineering jobs in the engineering industry, or visit targetjobs.co.uk to investigate graduate careers in other sectors.

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